Writer: Haga (@_haga_nom)
Illustrator: Kang Jiyoung (@zcb1346)
Translators: Sam Im, Charity Kingsley, and Samuel
QA/QC: Jen Lee
WHAT IS IT?
King’s Maker: Triple Crown is a grand fantasy about a young king’s rise to power and his relationship with his childhood friend as the eyes of the world turn to the kingdom they run.
Think of a grand fantasy like Fire Emblem: Three Houses with the royal politics and drama of Game of Thrones.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
It isn’t easy being king. No one knows this better than Shin Soohyuk, the most trusted advisor of the king. He wants Wolfgang Goldenleonard to thrive and his reign to be bountiful. Wolfgang, on the other hand, simply wants to please Shin and focus on their burgeoning romance.
As assassins and coup attempts threaten to tear down the peace that they fought for in their youth, Wolfgang and Shin must learn to balance their professional and intimate relationships as they take up arms against their enemies. Only time will tell if Shin can handle the weight that comes alongside being the mastermind who moves the pieces across the board.
*NOTE: King’s Maker: Triple Crown is the follow-up to King’s Maker, set after the coup d’etat and assassination of the former king. It continues the narrative of the prince and his trusted advisor. However, it is not necessary to read the original series to understand the story. In the original King’s Maker, adolescent age Shin and Wolfgang must learn to play their given roles at the palace, following them into adulthood. Shin sees potential in the wild and untamed nature of Wolfgang and begins a long con of molding the prince into a weapon to overthrow the hierarchy that has suppressed him for so long.
These initial chapters set the stage for the second series. However, they do touch on sensitive subject matter such as non-consensual acts, abduction, and abuse involving minors (though nothing is explicitly shown, it is heavily implied and a strong focus of the main narrative). These topics can be triggering and upsetting for some readers, so discretion is advised. These tones/themes do not carry into Triple Crown and the focus falls more on romance and the encroaching threat of war.
Haga has developed an incredible and vast narrative that feels worthy to sit amongst the most revered fantasy stories of our modern time. The attention to detail and world-building is immediately noticeable, with rich dialogue that feels appropriate for the setting, cultures, and backgrounds of the main cast. There is a nice balance of appropriate comedy and serious, oftentimes poetic, writing.
Jiyoung brings the cast and settings to life with vibrancy and stylistic illustrations. The character and outfit designs, the architecture and weaponry, and the impressive amount of detail in every panel feels grand in scale and has a uniqueness that leaves a lasting impression.
The translators have done an excellent job of translating a narrative-heavy story involving talk of politics and war, with absolute clarity. They ensured both the serious and comedic moments were understood with perfection.
The relationship between the main characters is charming and timeless, Shin being stern and calculated and Wolfgang being laid-back and carefree. The BL (boy's love) romance is a main focal point that fits well in the overarching story. There is a strong pull of tension and anticipation as their love develops amidst the looming threat of war and past trauma.
The focus on anatomy and the human form is a strong point in this comic. The characters feel as though they are in motion, with fluid design that conveys emotion and movement with realism. There is continuity in character design that is appreciated from an artistic standpoint.
The amount of world-building and thought put into the countries and cultures of the story is massive. The setting feels thought-out and expansive, with each location containing its own color palettes, clothing and character designs, and building styles. It would easily translate into an anime or RPG, and there is enough rich lore to satisfy readers who want something to sink their teeth into.
The balance of tones in the writing itself is appropriate for the pacing of the story arc. The humor is well-timed and pertinent for the characters/situations, while the more serious topics are weighty and emotional.
The chapters are lengthy, which turns the first season into a long and captivating read that has strong potential for multiple re-reads, with new details to discover each time you load it up.
The kingdom the story revolves around has a main export of gold, and this is enhanced by the designs of the architecture, furniture, and decor (even the paper is gold). It adds a vibrancy and richness to the aesthetics of the main setting.
Some of the most stunning parts of the story are told through stained glass windows (from actual windows to background designs and textures inspired by the style). It's a timeless style that fantasy fans will appreciate.
The plot point of political unrest, with war on the horizon, feels tense and grows at a steady pace that covers the lengthy story with perfection. It does not lose steam and hits a sharp and satisfying peak at the precise right moment.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Rated 16+ to M. There are two versions of the manhwa* available. Both feature strong violence, scenes of torture, language, and suggestive themes (there are some slight suggestions of pederasty, mostly in relation to the actions of the former king).
The mature version includes lengthy sex scenes. These scenes do have more exposition that is not necessary for the main story, but do expound on Shin and Wolfgang’s relationship, and adds several more chapters to the season.
Though it is not necessary to read the original series, there are details/story points that are clearer with those first chapters. It’s a personal preference to read King’s Maker beforehand.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
King’s Maker: Triple Crown’s first season is a 49-episode (53 in the mature version) epic that captures the glory and wonder of timeless tales filled with magic, knights, and lore-soaked lands. With its setting of a golden kingdom and its well-developed cast of characters, fans of the wave of might-and-magic-focused stories that swept over the 2000s (such as The Witcher, Claymore, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Fable, and Fire Emblem) will feel a nostalgic and familiar sense of excitement while reading this manhwa.
Political intrigue, vast landscapes, and gripping action make King’s Maker: Triple Crown an utterly addicting tale that is cinematic and captivating. With powerful illustrations that portray movement and emotion, fantasy fanatics will find themselves bingeing it with little effort and BL fans will fall head over heels for the will they/won't they tension (and inevitably scream when they reach the season finale cliffhanger). The saga of the fourth prince and his beloved advisor will pull readers in time and again.
HOW DO I READ IT?
The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Haga/Kang Jiyoung characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Haga/Kang Jiyoung or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
*Editor's note: Manhwa is the Korean word for their style of comic, in the same way that Manga is the Japanese word/style of comic. The more you know.